Health and home benefits of essential oils

Robert Hawley,  owner of Taos Herb Company & Yerba Hair Care.

(Originally published in Taos News)

“The original use of perfumes and essential oils was to try to get people into bed,” said Robert Hawley, owner of Taos Herb Company & Yerba Hair Care. “But they have many more uses, of course, and that’s the reason why they are so popular now.”

Essential oils are distilled from leaves, bark, seeds, roots or other sections of a plant. They carry the distinctive scent (essence) of the plant. They are often used in diverse forms of alternative medicine, like aromatherapy, because of their therapeutic properties. Besides, they are key ingredients in cosmetics, perfumes, massage oils and home fragrances.

Essential oils can be safely used at home as antiseptics, to keep the place clean and get rid of bacteria, said Hawley. He recommends using clove, thyme, oregano and eucalyptus, dispensed in a diffuser. “They can act as antibacterial agents in the house, and lavender is excellent to cover odors,” he said.

They can also be part of a home First Aid kit.  “Peppermint, birch and wintergreen are analgesic, while thyme, tea tree, clove, oregano are antifungal,” Hawley said. As for getting people in a positive mood, he considers ylang-ylang, basil, geranium and bergamot as excellent choices.

Taos Herb Company carries some unique aromatherapy blends such as Energy Blend (that contains lemon, lavender, lime andPerubalsam) as well as Sensuality Blend, Harmony Blend and Serenity Blend.

But essential oils must always be used with caution. Some can cause irritation or provoke an allergic reaction. Others can aggravate skin conditions or even worsen them. It is advisable to test for skin allergies (using just one drop on a small patch of skin, preferably on the elbow) and watch for redness or itching. As a rule, they shouldn’t be applied around the eyes or on mucous membranes.

“Essential oils are extremely concentrated,” Hawley said. “Consult a good reference book or an aromatherapy practitioner before using any of them internally. Remember that they must be diluted and that they are to be used externally, in most cases.”

The same goes for their use on pets. “Animals can have a severe allergic or toxic reaction to many products,” said Hawley. “For example, cats may not tolerate all essential oils.” To be safe, always consult with your veterinarian before using essential oils on your pets.

Taos Herb Company offers natural insect repellents. “Rose Geranium is an extremely potent repellent for ticks and can be applied directly to your dog’s collar,” said Hawley, “while Catnip Oil spray is reported to be ten times more effective than DEET (the toluene based chemical used in commercial insect sprays). Neem Oil has also been used as a mosquito, flea and tick repellent.”

If you want to learn more about essential oils, Hawley recommends several books among the many that he sells in his well-stocked store. One is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty and a Safe Home Environment, by Valerie Ann Worwood. The author describes how to use essential oils as part of a “care kit” and in common health problems like colds, headache or fever. The book also contains useful DIY recipes and tips.

Linda Carvalho said that she has used essential oils to improve her children’s health with amazing results. Now she swears by them.

“I have two little boys,” she said. “One has a diagnosis of autism and the other a diagnosis of ADHA, along with issues like temper tantrums and fears. Often, their tantrums lasted fifty minutes to an hour and a half, but they have now gone down to less than ten minutes, with a much easier turnaround.”

Carvalho uses essential oils sold by YoungLiving, a Utah-based company. For her boys, she has used oils called Purification, Peace and Calming, Lavender, RutaVala and Sacred Mountain.

“My daughter, Jeanne, has used many different YoungLiving Oils to clear up her acne,” Carvalho said. “In order to figure out what oils are good for the skin (like those that help regenerate tissue and reduce the appearance of scars) she looked in the Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley and the Essential Oils Desk Reference, published by Life Science Publishing.”

Monthly Educational Workshop about the health benefits of using pure therapeutic grade essential oils take place the second Saturday of every month from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Linda Carvalho’s home. 713 Cavalry Court, Taos. Appointments are also available. Contact Linda Carvalho at 575-779-9007 or Jeanne Collins at 727-804-8010.


Taos Herb Company & Yerba Hair Care is located at 710 Paseo del Pueblo Sur Ste. J Taos, New Mexico 87571
575-758-1991 Ext. 201
800-353-1991 Ext. 201